Moroni – read 48:11-13, 16-17
Protecting Freedom – An Immediate Responsibility October 1966
Ezra Taft Benson – “Why have prophets of God been commanded to proclaim liberty and lead the battle to preserve freedom? Because freedom is basic to the great plan of the Lord. The gospel can prosper only in an atmosphere of freedom. This fact is confirmed by history, as well as by sacred scriptures. The right of choice – free agency – runs like a golden thread throughout the gospel plan of the Lord for the blessing of his children.”
“There are some who apparently feel that the fight for freedom is separate from the gospel. They express it in different ways, but it generally boils down to this: Just live the gospel; there’s no need to get involved in trying to save freedom and the Constitution…Of course, this is dangerous reasoning, because in reality you cannot fully live the gospel without working to save freedom and the Constitution…”
Ezra Taft Benson asked why Moroni didn’t just put on the title of liberty to live your religion. He said, “The reason he didn’t do this was because all these things were a part of his religion, as they are of our religion today.”
“Our stand for freedom is a most basic part of our religion; this stand helped get us to this earth, and our reaction to freedom in this life will have eternal consequences. Man has many duties, but he has no excuse that can compensate for his loss of liberty.”
- http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/religious-freedom: Leaders of many faiths, including Mormon apostles, have expressed deep concern that religious liberty is eroding in the United States and around the world. These resources contribute to the many conversations taking place on this topic and highlight freedom of religion as a fundamental human right that protects the conscience of all people and allows them to act upon what they deeply believe. Churches, religious organizations and individuals face increasing restrictions as they participate in the public square, exercise conscience in their professions, express their beliefs or serve in society.
- Dallin H Oaks – 1990 – World Peace – Many think of peace as the absence of war. Everyone wants that kind of peace. Songs celebrate it, and bumper stickers proclaim it. Many good people promote peace by opposing war. They advocate laws or treaties to abolish war, to require disarmament, or to reduce armed forces. Those methods may reduce the likelihood or the costs of war. But opposition to war cannot ensure peace, because peace is more than the absence of war. For over fifty years, I have heard the leaders of this Church preach that peace can only come through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am coming to understand why. The peace the gospel brings is not just the absence of war. It is the opposite of war. Gospel peace is the opposite of any conflict, armed or unarmed. It is the opposite of national or ethnic hostilities, of civil or family.
In Alma 48, Amalickiah and Moroni prepare their people for war. The Nephites do not want to fight the Lamanites, but reluctantly prepare to do so.
In Alma 49-51, look for how the preparations Captain Moroni made against the Lamanites can be compared to preparations we should make against Satan’s temptations today.
Alma 49 – The Lamanites attempt to take over the Nephites in Ammonihah and then Noah. Amalickiah swears to drink Moroni’s blood. The church prospers.
VS1-11 -The Lamanites march toward the city of Ammonihah. The city has been rebuilt and dirt is cast very high around it to protect from Lamanite stone and arrows. The Lamanites had destroyed Ammonihah before, so they think it will be easy to take it over again. They are very surprised at the fortifications Moroni has built and are afraid to attack by the entrance (the only way to attack) even though the Lamanites themselves were more prepared with great numbers and armor. Amalickiah probably would have the Lamanites attack if he were there because he doesn’t care about them, but since he isn’t there, the Lamanites leave Ammoniah due to their fear of the Nephites’ PREPARATION.
President James E. Faust: “Satan is our greatest enemy and works night and day to destroy us. But we need not become paralyzed with fear of Satan’s power. He can have no power over us unless we permit it. He is really a coward, and if we stand firm he will retreat” (“Be Not Afraid,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 4).
VS 12-25 – The Lamanites then go to Noah. They do not know that Moroni has built fortifications for every city in the area. The chief captains of the Lamanites vow to destroy the Nephites there, but Noah is even stronger than Ammonihah, though in the past it was a very weak city. Lehi is the chief captain in Noah and the Lamanites are afraid of him, but the chief captains have to keep their oath. They have to go through the entrance because of the high bank. The Nephites are prepared to defend themselves with strong men, swords, and slings. The Lamanites come to the entrance to fight, but are driven back from time to time, and many are slaughtered. The Lamanites try to dig down the banks of earth, but are killed by stones and arrows. Their bodies fill the holes they just made. The Nephites have all power over the Lamanites, but the Lamanites fight until all the chief captains are slain. More than a thousand are killed, but none of the Nephites are slain, though some have severe wounds, mostly on their legs. The Lamanites run into the wilderness and return to Nephi to tell Amalickiah what has happened.
VS26-27 – Amalickiah is very angry because he didn’t bring the Nephites into bondage. He curses God and swears to drink Moroni’s blood because Moroni has kept the commandments in preparing for his people’s safety.
Q – Captain Moroni labored to protect the Nephites from the Lamanites. How do our leaders labor to protect and defend us against the adversary?
VS28-30 – The Nephites thank God for their deliverance. The Nephites have peace among them and the church prospers because they listen to the word of God taught by Helaman and his brethren, who have been called and ordained to preach. By helping the Nephites remain righteous, Helaman and his brethren are helping them receive the blessings and protection of the Lord.
Dallin H Oaks: The blessings of the gospel are universal, and so is the formula for peace: keep the commandments of God. War and conflict are the result of wickedness; peace is the product of righteousness.
Alma 50 – Moroni continues to fortify Nephite lands. A contention occurs between the people of Lehi and Morianton. Nephihah dies.
VS1-6 – Moroni keeps fortifying and preparing for war in all Nephite cities. They dig heaps of earth, and then put timbers on top of that, and then pickets on top of that. They erect towers and places of security on the towers. This way, they can attack before the Lamanites approach the cities.
Moroni did not stop making preparations even though there was no immediate threat. President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency: “As the forces around us increase in intensity, whatever spiritual strength was once sufficient will not be enough. And whatever growth in spiritual strength we once thought was possible, greater growth will be made available to us. Both the need for spiritual strength and the opportunity to acquire it will increase at rates which we underestimate at our peril” (“Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 9).
Q – What can we do to build high spiritual walls against Satan’s temptations? (Answers could include meaningful daily prayer, daily scripture study, regular Church attendance, serving others, and fasting.)
President Ezra Taft Benson “It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , 285).
Why do you think this statement is true? When have you seen an example of the principle this statement teaches?
V7-16 -Moroni has his armies go to the east wilderness and drive all the Lamanites there back to their own lands. He then has Nephites from Zarahemla area inhabit the east wilderness. He places armies and builds fortifications in the borders of their lands. All the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east and west wilderness are cut off and the land between the Nephites and Lamanites are completely fortified. Moroni’s armies keep increasing because they feel safe and protected. They build new cities – Moroni, Nephihah and Lehi.
- Moroni “cuts off all the strongholds of the Lamanites.” How might a woman “cut off” a situation of gossiping when she gets together with friends?
- Moroni fortifies a line, or border, between the Nephites and the Lamanites. How might a young man and a young woman fortify the line between keeping the law of chastity and crossing over into immorality?
- Moroni’s armies build fortifications to secure his people against their enemies. A young man recognizes that he has been spending too much time using social media (online or through text messaging). This behavior seems to diminish his concern for his immediate family, and he neglects his responsibilities in the home. What can he do to fortify and secure his relationships with his family?
See VS 12 – Moroni’s army increased daily because through his works, his people felt that they would be protected in war. What is a spiritual connection to this?
V18-24 – The Nephites have much prosperity for three years. They get rich and multiply. (Read vs 19-23)
Q – When have you felt the Lord extend His power and blessings to you for being obedient and for fortifying yourself against temptation?
Q – Faithfulness to God brings happiness, even amid turmoil. This truth applies not only to war but also to personal challenges such as financial setbacks, loss of employment, the death of a loved one, troubled relationships with family members, and natural disasters. When has the Lord blessed you or someone you know with prosperity, peace, and happiness in the midst of difficult times?
Q – Why do you think it was possible for the Nephites to have such happiness even though they faced the threat of war?
VS25-36 – The lands of Morianton and Lehi border each other. The people in Morianton claim part of the land of Lehi, which causes a contention, so much of one that the people of Morianton want to fight and slay the people of Lehi. The people of Lehi run to Moroni’s camp and ask for help because they have done nothing wrong. Morianton’s people, led by Morianton, are afraid of Moroni, so they decide it would be good to flee north and live there. This does not happen, though, because Morianton beats on of his maidservants, who runs to Moroni and tells him everything Morianton is planning. Moroni is afraid that the people in Bountiful will listen to Morianton and unite with him, causing more contention among the Nephites, which would hurt their liberty. He sends an army to stop Morianton’s people from moving northward. Teancum leads this army. They meet Morianton’s people by the sea to stop them. Morianton is stubborn, as are his people, who have been blinded by his flattering words and wickedness, so they go to battle. Teancum slays Morianton and defeats his army. The prisoners are brought back to Moroni’s camp . They are told to covenant to keep the peace and they can then return home. The people of Lehi and Morianton are once again peaceful.
VS37-40 – Nephihah, the chief judge, dies a righteous man. He has never taken the sacred records from Alma, so they are given to Helaman. Nephihah’s son, Pahoran, takes the judgment seat.
VS39 outlines Nephihah’s responsibility as a leader of the Nephites. In the midst of World War I, President Joseph F. Smith declared:
“There is only one thing that can bring peace into the world. It is the adoption of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rightly understood, obeyed and practiced by rulers and people alike.” (Improvement Era, Sept. 1914, pp. 1074–75.)
Alma 51 – King-men try to change the government – compelled to peace. Amalickiah takes over many Nephite lands. He is slain by Teancum. In this chapter we learn that division and contention destroy our peace.
VS1-8 – Some people want to change the laws of the land to provide for a king and take away free government. Pahoran will not allow this. The people who want the changes, who call themselves king-men, are angry and want to overthrow him. They and their followers want power and authority over the people – many are of high birth. Those that want to maintain the free government are called freemen. They wish to maintain the right and privileges of their religion. The voice of the people chooses the freemen’s cause and Pahoran remains chief judge, which causes much rejoicing.
We cannot have peace among nations without achieving general righteousness among the people who comprise them. Elder John A. Widtsoe said: “The only way to build a peaceful community is to build men and women who are lovers and makers of peace. Each individual, by that doctrine of Christ and His Church, holds in his own hands the peace of the world. That makes me responsible for the peace of the world, and makes you individually responsible for the peace of the world. The responsibility cannot be shifted to someone else. It cannot be placed upon the shoulders of Congress or Parliament, or any other organization of men with governing authority.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1943, p. 113.)
VS9-12 – Amalickiah is preparing the Lamanites to go to war with the Nephites again because of his oath to drink Moroni’s blood. He does not fear to come to Zarahemla because he has a great army despite all those killed in Noah. Amalickiah marches at the head of his army – all this is happening at the same time as the king-men/freemen contention.
VS13-21 – The king-men, when they hear that Lamanites are coming, are happy and refuse to fight. Moroni is very angry and asks Pahoran if he can compel them to fight or to be put to death. He gets permission, so he leads his army against the king-men “to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty (vs 17).” Moroni and his army kill four thousand of the king-men. The leaders who aren’t killed are put into prison. The rest decide to change and stand for liberty – they hoist the title of liberty on their towers and in their cities. The king-men and their stubbornness and pride are no more. (read vs 21)
Elder Russell M. Nelson offered the following counsel when faced with the duty of taking up arms to defend one’s country:
“Men really are brothers because God really is our Father. Nevertheless, scriptures are studded with stories of contention and combat. They strongly condemn wars of aggression but sustain obligations of citizens to defend their families and their freedoms [see Alma 43:45–47; 46:11–12, 19–20; 48:11–16]. … Members of this Church will be called into military service of many nations. ‘We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society’ [D&C 134:1].
“During the Second World War, when members of the Church were forced to fight on opposing sides, the First Presidency affirmed that ‘the state is responsible for the civil control of its citizens or subjects, for their political welfare, and for the carrying forward of political policies, domestic and foreign. … But the Church itself, as such, has no responsibility for these policies, [other] than urging its members fully to render … loyalty to their country’ [in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965–75), 6:155–56]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2002, 42; or Ensign, Nov. 2002, 40).
Q – What could you do in your family, among your friends, or in your community to resolve contention?
Q – When have you seen the blessings that come from unity strengthen a family or a quorum or class?
VS22-28 – While Moroni is teaching the king-men their lesson, Amalickiah and the Lamanites take over the city of Moroni. These people flee to Nephihah and Lehi prepares to fight, but the Lamanites never go there. Instead they take possession of many other cities by the seashore. They then march to Bountiful and slay many Nephites on the way.
VS29-37 – Teancum and his army meet the Lamanites and gain an advantage over them because they are stronger and more skilled. They fight until dark and everyone pitches their tents. During the night, Teancum and his servant go to the camp of Amalickiah and Teancum kills Amalickiah with a javelin to the heart. Teancum runs back to his camp and tells his army what he has done. His armies stand ready to fight the Lamanites when they awake.
The Contrast between Wicked and Righteous Leadership
Wicked men like Amalickiah who thrust themselves into power may prosper for a season by the world’s standards, but they ultimately bring ruin upon themselves and their followers. By contrast, leaders like Captain Moroni inspire people with noble desires that will ultimately overpower evil designs. The following chart contrasts Moroni and Amalickiah:
|Was appointed by “the voice of the people” and the judges as chief captain of the armies (Alma 46:34; see also 43:16).||Obtained power by fraud and deceit (see Alma 47:1–35; 48:7).|
|Rallied the people to righteousness and taught them to be faithful to God and their covenants (see Alma 46:12–21; 48:7).||Incited the people through hatred and propaganda (see Alma 48:1–3).|
|Rejoiced in the liberty and freedom of his country and the people (see Alma 48:11).||Sought to destroy the liberty of the people (see Alma 46:10).|
|Loved his brethren and labored “exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people” (Alma 48:12).||“Did care not for the blood of his people” and worked to promote his own selfishness (Alma 49:10).|
|A man governed by righteous principles who taught the Nephites to never raise the sword, except to defend one’s family, life, or freedoms (see Alma 48:10, 14).||A man governed by passion who taught the people to aggressively conquer and make oaths to destroy (see Alma 49:13, 26–27).|
|Humbly sought God’s help in preserving life (see Alma 48:16).||Cursed God and swore to kill (see Alma 49:27).|
|Worked to put an end to contention and dissension (see Alma 51:16).||Worked to create contention and dissension (see Alma 46:6, 10).|
Alma 49–50. Fortification of Nephite Cities
Moroni’s inspiration and foresight in fortifying the cities proved to be a turning point in the war. Thousands of Nephites were preserved because the cities were prepared. We can apply this lesson by fortifying our own lives with righteous thoughts and deeds in order to withstand evil attacks or “fiery darts of the adversary” (1 Nephi 15:24; see also Helaman 5:12). The Lord has promised that if we humbly seek Him, then He will show us our weakness and will “make weak things become strong” (Ether 12:27). The following chart lists some examples of how the fortifications of the Nephites could apply to us:
|How the Nephites Were Fortified||How We Can Fortify|
|The weaker fortifications were strengthened (see Alma 48:9).||We must strengthen the weak spots in our lives.|
|The Nephites prepared for the enemy in a manner never before known (see Alma 49:8).||We must prepare as never before to stand against the wiles of the devil.|
|The Nephites made their weaker cities into strongholds (see Alma 49:14).||If we come unto Christ, He can make weak things become strong to us (see Ether 12:27).|
|The Nephites were given power over their enemies (see Alma 49:23).||If we are faithful and trust the Lord, He will give us power over our enemies.|
|After some Nephite victories, they did not stop in their preparations (Alma 50:1).||When we have successfully overcome a temptation or trial, we must not let our guard down, but continue to endure and watch and pray always to not be overcome (see Alma 13:28).|
|The Nephites built security towers so they could see the enemy afar off (see Alma 50:4).||As we rely on prophets who are modern watchmen on the tower and see afar off, we will be better prepared for the future.|